A New Low | Bartmann Blog

Accretive HealthI thought I had seen it all in reprehensible debt collection tactics, but apparently I was wrong.

Accretive Health has been accused of harassing patients in EMERGENCY ROOMS to pay their medical bills. This practice came to light in a scathing report by Minnesota’s great Attorney General, Lori Swanson, who told the story of  Deb Waldin of Edina, MN who said last July she was “curled up in a ball in excruciating pain from a kidney stone” when a billing employee of Accretive Health approached her for payment.

It has been reported that Accretive Health collectors were dressed as hospital staff within Minnesota hospital emergency rooms and they allegedly demanded that patients pay their outstanding bills before receiving treatment.

Besides violating the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), which requires hospitals to provide care regardless of a patients ability to pay, this conduct – if true – borders on inhumane. How much lower can a company go?

Yesterday, Minnesota’s progressive and outspoken Senator Al Franken (@alfranken) convened a hearing on the debt collection practices of Accretive Health. At this hearing Accretive Senior Vice President, Greg Kazarian, offered the company’s defense saying its mission is to “help patients pay their bills and help nonprofit hospitals improve their finances.”

They might want to consider including “helping their hospitals get bad PR and come under regulator scrutiny.”

Click below to join in Bill Bartmann’s effort to stop debt collectors from suing to collect on past due credit card bills.

sign credit card debt petition

Bill

Hi, I'm Bill Bartmann and I am on a mission to reform the debt collection industry in America. Please join with me as we bring a petition to Washington D.C., and make Congress close all the legal loopholes in debt collection practices. It's time to stop these debt collection abuses and stop these criminals. Join with me! Sign the petition today! http://stopthesecriminals.com/petition

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A Memorial Day Wish | Bartmann Blog

Memorial day is very important to me.

It’s the day we’re supposed to remember those who served in our military. I use this as a time to remind myself WHY they served.

I believe they served so that we can be a beacon of hope and role model for the rest of the world. If this is true, then this means they really served so we as a country can continue to be the place that….

  • Protects our young
  • Honors our elderly
  • Lifts up those who’ve fallen
  • Feeds those that are hungry
  • Comforts those that are distraught
  • Treats all with dignity & respect
  • Nurtures the unique greatness with in each of us
  • Stands up for those being bullied
  • Safeguards those who are vulnerable
  • Embraces our differences
  • Offers people of all races, religions, gender and ethnicity a peaceful life of tolerance & acceptance

This is what it really means to be an American.

We may not be perfect, but no country tries harder than us to do the right thing.

American Flag Memorial Day

Bill

Hi, I'm Bill Bartmann and I am on a mission to reform the debt collection industry in America. Please join with me as we bring a petition to Washington D.C., and make Congress close all the legal loopholes in debt collection practices. It's time to stop these debt collection abuses and stop these criminals. Join with me! Sign the petition today! http://stopthesecriminals.com/petition

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There’s a Difference Between What’s Legal and What’s Right

AG Dustin McDaniel Arkansas Debt CollectorsBy conventional legal standards Arkansas Attorney General, Dustin McDaniel, failed. His original $194,000 victory against a debt collector Jack Boyajian, for violation of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, was just overturned by the Arkansas supreme court.

To me AG McDaniel is 100% victor.

Why? Because Mr. McDaniel was absolutely right to go after Boyajian because Mr. Boyajian did:

  • Badger and harass consumers
  • Threaten civil and criminal action
  • Target people who owed nothing
  • Get sued in Colorado, Connecticut & NY for the same things

In fact, the case wasn’t overturned because this egregious behavior turned out to be untrue. Rather it was overturned because Mr. Boyajian, an attorney, successfully argued that his despicable conduct was carried out in the practice of law and that the Deceptive Trade Practices Act does not apply to the practice of law.

The Arkansas supreme court agreed.

“The practice of law cannot be regulated by an act of the General Assembly because the regulation of the practice of law is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the judiciary,” Chief Justice Him Hannah wrote in the court’s unanimous opinion.

So Boyajian walks. This however doesn’t make him innocent or any less horrible of a human being. And it certainly doesn’t make Mr. McDaniel anything less than a wonderful public servant. Unfortunately he and all our AG’s are working against some huge obstacles in their efforts to protect their constituents from some really bad people. This decision just happens to shine a light on it.

sign credit card debt petition

Bill

Hi, I'm Bill Bartmann and I am on a mission to reform the debt collection industry in America. Please join with me as we bring a petition to Washington D.C., and make Congress close all the legal loopholes in debt collection practices. It's time to stop these debt collection abuses and stop these criminals. Join with me! Sign the petition today! http://stopthesecriminals.com/petition

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Student Loan Mess Putting Government in the Debt Collection Business

Student LoansThis is going to seem like a “dog bites man” kind of news story. It likely won’t come as a shock that debt collection firms contracted by the Dept. of Education, to collect on the $67 billion of defaulted student loans, are running into big problems with borrowers. This has been thoroughly documented in a detailed new report by the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC).

The report shines a critical light on the exacerbating part of the problem, a grossly inadequate complaint & response infrastructure. (No doubt the Dept. of Education had no idea what they were getting into when setting up a program that offered a significant financial incentive to collection firms that recouped defaulted debt.)

Bloomberg reports collection firms getting up to 37% funds collected, creating an environment where it pays, handsomely, to get people to pay up. It’s astounding to see student debt collector Joshua Mandelman earn $454,000 in a single year, twice the pay of the Secretary of Education (and a fraction of what his boss took home.)

Now I don’t begrudge anyone making money, wealth is responsible for curing nearly every societal ill. However what the NCLC report shows is that these earning are coming from student loan collection abuses. It’s amounting to a repeat of the same tricks and abusive behavior we’ve seen in areas like 3rd party credit card collections.

It may be time for Richard Cordray and the CFPB to step in and oversee not just public markets collections, but governmental efforts too.

 

Join Bill Bartmann as he works to reform the debt collection industry. Sign our petition here. 

Bill

Hi, I'm Bill Bartmann and I am on a mission to reform the debt collection industry in America. Please join with me as we bring a petition to Washington D.C., and make Congress close all the legal loopholes in debt collection practices. It's time to stop these debt collection abuses and stop these criminals. Join with me! Sign the petition today! http://stopthesecriminals.com/petition

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Shared Sacrifice – Practical Wisdom From NY’s 1st District | Bartmann Blog

NY Tim BishopLast August I was extremely pleased when President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Reid pushed for a massive deficit reduction package of $4 trillion dollars. Unfortunately, partisan politics once again threw a wrench into us solving our deficit problem.

Now, because the so called “Super-committee” failed last November in its task to determine the specific places to cut spending, we are faced with budget sequestration (aka automatic across the board budget cuts.) These indiscrimant cuts could be devastating.

I was inspired and moved by Congressman Tim Bishop (D-NY) who, while pushing a “go big” $4 trillion deficit reduction target, is also exercising practical wisdom when it comes to dealing with the horrific consequences of budget sequestration’s across the board cuts.

“The cuts contained in the budget sequestration could damage our nation’s defense readiness, as well as hinder our ability to help the most vulnerable members of our society.  To be clear, these cuts are unacceptable. However, the proposal passed today by House Republicans (hr 5652) to remove the defense cuts and replace them with reductions to programs that directly affect middle class families and the poor is a misguided approach inconsistent with our nation’s values. Moving forward on a sustainable fiscal path will require shared sacrifice, and I cannot vote for one-sided legislation that places the burden of closing the budget gap disproportionately on low and middle income families.”

~ NY Congressman Tim Bishop

Protecting the country and our most vulnerable citizens is too important to be left to random cuts.

This standoff reminds me of the story of two sisters fighting over an orange. Exasperated they finally compromise by cutting the orange in half, each getting an equal share. One sister throws out her peel and eats her half of the orange. The other sister uses the skin of the orange for zest in a dinner recipe and throws out her half of the fruit. With a little bit of communication they could have both gotten 100% of what they wanted.

I don’t harbor any illusions that everyone can get exactly what they want here. Which is exactly why everyone should follow Congressman Bishop and at least do no harm.

 

Join Bill Bartmann as he works to reform the debt collection industry. Sign our petition to ban debt collectors from suing to collect on past due credit card bills.

Bill

Hi, I'm Bill Bartmann and I am on a mission to reform the debt collection industry in America. Please join with me as we bring a petition to Washington D.C., and make Congress close all the legal loopholes in debt collection practices. It's time to stop these debt collection abuses and stop these criminals. Join with me! Sign the petition today! http://stopthesecriminals.com/petition

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Stop Paying Upfront Fees to Financial Firms — PLEASE!!

I know it sounds tempting, but if a firm offers to modify a delinquent loan/mortgage of yours and requires an upfront payment… DO NOT PAY IT. IT IS USUALLY A SCAM.

Case in point: Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, and his able Assistant Attorney General Cherie Howe, just reached a settlement with Underwater Property Solutions (UPS), a Scottsdale, Arizona based mortgage loan modification service company. The State accused UPS of deceptively scheming to collect advance fees from consumers looking for assistance in obtaining mortgage loan modifications.

UPS would tell consumers that they could stop foreclosures and that consumers were guaranteed a modification that would save them hundreds of dollars a month. This was nothing more than speculation and often proved to be false.

There are evil people out there who prey on the desperate because those who are desperate are most likely to grasp at any straw that resembles hope. There will be a special place in hell for these people, but for now we can’t just rely on Attorney Generals to protect us. We’ve got to educate ourselves and be aware.

Special Note: Attorney General Horne can’t enforce anything outside of his home state, even if he wanted to. That means this company, along with their co-defendant The Mortgage Law Group, LLP, that also does business under the name Macey, Aleman & Searns, a Chicago, Illinois law firm, are free to continue their reign of terror in other states.

 

Please help get the word out about this. 

Bill

Hi, I'm Bill Bartmann and I am on a mission to reform the debt collection industry in America. Please join with me as we bring a petition to Washington D.C., and make Congress close all the legal loopholes in debt collection practices. It's time to stop these debt collection abuses and stop these criminals. Join with me! Sign the petition today! http://stopthesecriminals.com/petition

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The Loan Modification Scam | Bartmann Blog

debt collection wild westAll successful scams use the victims beliefs against them. Today most consumers in financial trouble know that those they owe money to may be willing to settle their account for less than the full amount due. After all, collecting something is better than collecting nothing.

Therein lies the seed that opens so many under financial duress to be preyed upon by scam artists. Case in point:

Yesterday Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne filed suit against Mortgage Relief Group, d.b.a. Mortgage Assistance Group, and its owner, Stan Allotey for deceiving consumers into paying fees, ranging from $995 to $3,245, for loan modification services by misrepresenting their ability to help consumers obtain mortgage relief and save their homes.

This company apparently would lure financially distressed homeowners into paying up-front fees with promises that the company would prevent foreclosure by negotiating modifications of mortgage loans. (The collection of up-front fees has been banned by the Arizona Foreclosure Consultant Regulation Law.) Then, once homeowners paid the upfront fees, the Defendants allegedly often failed to perform their part of the contract, keep homeowners informed of the status of their application for a modification, refund fees, or otherwise do anything to earn their fee.

“Predatory loan modification scams are an unfortunate part of the housing crisis,” Attorney General Horne said. “Cases such as this show that every consumer needs to thoroughly research the companies with which they do business. And it is a reminder that nobody should ever agree to paying up-front fees for services of this kind.”

I couldn’t agree more. And, this is just as true with firms that tell you they can do the same with your credit card debt.

It’s the wild west out there; ignore this at your own peril.

Bill

Hi, I'm Bill Bartmann and I am on a mission to reform the debt collection industry in America. Please join with me as we bring a petition to Washington D.C., and make Congress close all the legal loopholes in debt collection practices. It's time to stop these debt collection abuses and stop these criminals. Join with me! Sign the petition today! http://stopthesecriminals.com/petition

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Debt Collection Fraud (The Video) | Bartmann Blog

Watch this video news story from CBS reporter Mike Parker. As you can see, pictures really do speak a thousand words. This report paints a much more visceral picture of the kind of fraud against consumers that is going on out there in the real world.

And, as if the fraud by legitimate debt collectors wasn’t bad enough, this story shows how scam artists are posing as debt collectors and then running off with the money they collect.

To stop this it’s up to us as consumers to report this kind of wrong doing to both law enforcement and our Attorney Generals. As you’ll see in this story, Attorney Generals like Illinois’ Lisa Madigan really act on these tips and are coming down hard and fast on the perpetrators.

If you’ve been a victim, follow this link to find the contact info of your state Attorney General.

Bill

Hi, I'm Bill Bartmann and I am on a mission to reform the debt collection industry in America. Please join with me as we bring a petition to Washington D.C., and make Congress close all the legal loopholes in debt collection practices. It's time to stop these debt collection abuses and stop these criminals. Join with me! Sign the petition today! http://stopthesecriminals.com/petition

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A Great Attorneys General Action Highlights The Fight for The Debt Collection Industry’s Soul | Bartmann Blog

darrell mcgrawOn Tuesday the ever vigilant West Virginia Attorney General, Darrell McGraw, announced a lawsuit against 7 UNLICENSED collection agencies for UNLAWFUL collection practices.

Now get this…his office was investigating direct complaints (not going on an unfounded witch-hunt) from West Virginia residents on a distressing array of debt collector misconduct including:

  • Repeated harassing phone calls
  • Impostors posing as law enforcement and judicial officials
  • Making false threats that non-payment will result in prosecution (criminally and civilly)
  • Collection of non-existing debts
  • Collection of debts that have already been paid

Now, before issuing the lawsuit AG McGraw actually issued subpoenas that asked the seven companies to produce records of their collection activities in West Virginia. You know what the companies did? They completely refused to comply. Doesn’t leave an Attorney General with many options but to litigate, does it?

Most “normal” people would applaud Attorney General McGraw and feel he was doing his job. Not so for the debt collection industry. Here was a comment left by a debt collector in response to the suit that illustrates a common point of view:

Again Darell McGraw will do anything to grab headlines. Worst A.G. in the country.”

Completely and utterly mind boggling.

What we’ve got here is a good old fashioned fight between “right” and self-interest. The distressing part is that I believe our industry is filled with many more who are interested in lining their own pockets at any means, than doing things the right way.

I’m just hoping that as A.G.’s like Mr. McGraw clean up our industry that can’t seem to police itself, I’ll be proven wrong.

Bill

Hi, I'm Bill Bartmann and I am on a mission to reform the debt collection industry in America. Please join with me as we bring a petition to Washington D.C., and make Congress close all the legal loopholes in debt collection practices. It's time to stop these debt collection abuses and stop these criminals. Join with me! Sign the petition today! http://stopthesecriminals.com/petition

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Illinois Lawmakers Crack Down on Debt Collectors “Sewer Service” | Bartmann Blog

illinois debt collectorsOne of the most sinister tricks in the unethical debt collectors “handbook” is known to insiders as “Sewer Service.” This is the practice of mailing notice of a lawsuit against a debtor to an address without verification that it is accurate, current or actually received. For all anyone knows the suit notification was sent down the sewer.

This results in court cases taking place without the debtor present to defend themselves, resulting in a default judgement for the collection company. After all it’s not hard to win a case when your openent doesn’t show up. Such a high percentage of debt collection court cases result in no-show default judgments, that if this was a virus we’d have an epidemic on our hands.

Well Illinois lawmakers, spurred on by the tenacious state Attorney General Lisa Madigan, are cracking down on this scam. New legislation recently introduced would require court appearance notices to be served directly to a debtor’s home, like other typical court appearance notices.

Yesterday BusinessWeek wrote a great piece highlighting how Illinois debt collectors have co-opted law enforcement and the court system to “squeeze poor people who fall behind.”

While not everyone agrees with me that debt collectors should be banned from using lawsuits as a collection weapon (I have never sued a single of our over 4.5 million clients to collect a debt) I think everyone would agree that it’s a fundamental fairness that there should be proof that they were personally aware of the suit. If they then choose to not show, at least it was a conscious, deliberate decision.

There is another major benefit too. When debt collectors know that they are actually going to have to present a case, not just win by no-show, they will be much more judicious with who they choose to sue. A good outcome all the way around.

This Illinois legislation should put an end to this terrible practice and hopefully will be a role model for other states to follow.

Want to jump in and help us?

Sign the Bill Bartmann online petition to “Ban Debt Collectors from Suing to Collect on Past Due Redit Card Bills.”

(click here: http://www.change.org/petitions/credit-card-holders-ban-debt-collectors-from-suing-to-collect-on-past-due-credit-card-bills?utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=autopublish)

Bill

Hi, I'm Bill Bartmann and I am on a mission to reform the debt collection industry in America. Please join with me as we bring a petition to Washington D.C., and make Congress close all the legal loopholes in debt collection practices. It's time to stop these debt collection abuses and stop these criminals. Join with me! Sign the petition today! http://stopthesecriminals.com/petition

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